College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

Current Graduate Students

mason brownMason Brown

Before embarking on his graduate studies, Mason Brown was a sign painter, carpenter, recording artist and touring musician, as well as a Zen priest. As an ethnomusicologist, his main focus is Tibetan music and culture, with an eye toward overlaps between liturgical music and contemporary popular forms, as well as rural folk traditions. His other research interests include Japanese Buddhist chant, American and Irish vernacular fiddle music and violin manufacturing in the Industrial Revolution. Mason holds a double BA in Religious Studies and Music, with a minor in Tibetan language, from Naropa University. He continues to record and perform original and traditional folk music, and is a resident priest at Hakubai Zen Temple in Boulder.

elissa dalyElissa Daly

Elissa is a doctoral candidate who entered the CU Musicology PhD program in 2011 after careers in information technology, music performance and teaching. In San Francisco, she played in the touring band Kumquat while running her own computer consulting company as well as a record label. In Lake Tahoe she taught at Tahoe Conservatory of Music and was a ski and snowboard instructor. In Steamboat Springs, she co-founded an Apple Inc Specialist retail and warranty store. She has played music in gamelan orchestras in Bali, Indonesia and in weddings in Bamako, Mali. A graduate of Wesleyan University, at CU she has been a teaching assistant for the CU Mariachi Ensemble, the CU West African Highlife Ensemble, and the World Musics class. In May 2015 she was inducted into the Pi Kappa Lambda national music honor society based on her academic and performance work at the College of Music. In the fall of 2015 she plans to defend her dissertation, A Fusion of Nature and Technology?: Icelandic Identity and Activism in Björk's music. Her CD entitled "Indie Rock 4evr" is available for purchase on and the iTunes Store.

teresita lozanoTeresita Lozano

Teresita Lozano is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado Boulder. A native of the El Paso, Texas Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua borderland and daughter of Mexican immigrants, Teresita engages in music research that explores the relationship between music, Diaspora and inherited memory in the construction of transnational identities. Her current research is based on the post-Revolutionary Mexican corridos (ballads) from the 1926 armed religious rebellion, La Crisiada, and their contemporary appropriation to expressions of Mexican identity in both Mexico and the United States, including the undocumented Mexican immigrant community. Other relevant research, presentations and publications include Latino popular groups influence on American immigration politics, such as Grammy award-winning "La Santa Cecilia," as well as the significance of religion, ritual and religious spaces in the musical expressions and negotiations of transnational and diasporic identities. Teresita has a strong interest in applied ethnomusicology, including civic engagement, public education and work in museums and archives. In 2013, Teresita was awarded a graduate fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where she worked in residence as a Latino Museums Studies fellow conducting field work and music research for the Latino D.C. History Project. Teresita has presented several papers in the United States, Canada and Mexico, including the annual Society for Ethnomusicology national conferences and La Transnationalisation du Religieux par la Musique international conference. 

Teresita is an active flutist and vocalist at the University of Colorado and in the larger community. She has performed in a variety of ensembles, including world music (Mariachi, Japanese, African Highlife) and Early/Baroque music (flauto traverso). Teresita also participates in multicultural recording projects and has performed as a flute and vocal soloist with local orchestras and community artists. She is currently a member of the Doina Romanian folk choir, as well a founding member of the Colorado-based traditional Mexican womens trio, Las Dahlias, with Valeria Carlos and Roberta Maldonado. 

Teresita graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University where she studied flute with Helen Ann Shanley and was awarded the Presser Foundation Award in performance and academia. She is currently an instructor of ethnomusicology at CU, and also holds a graduate assistantship for the American Music Research Center where she works in both archival work and exhibition creation with the support of the University of Colorado museums. She is an advocate for musical activism in the community, and utilizes her academic and performance background for diversity outreach, public education and human rights movements. When Teresita is not living the academic life, she spends her time performing with her amazing friends and colleagues, embarking on travel adventures and attempting to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming Indiana Jones.

ruth oparaRuth Opara

Ruth Opara is currently a PhD student at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received her BA Arts in Music Education from the University of Nigeria and Masters from the University of Louisville, Kentucky in Pan African Studies. Her BA research was on the “Problems and Prospects of Teaching Music in Primary Schools in Nigeria.” Her masters research focused on “African Musicians as Indigenous Intellectuals: A Case Study of Igbo High Life Musicians in the Eastern Part of Nigeria.” Ruth has published two referred journal articles in Nigerian and the United States, and has presented in 11 academic conferences (including international conferences). She has taught music in Nigeria and has assisted some professors in teaching in the U.S. She has two graduate teaching certificates, from the University of Louisville Graduate Teaching Academy and University of Colorado Graduate Teaching Program. She was a Provost Fellow in the University of Colorado Library in Spring 2014, where she worked at the Howard B. Waltz Music Library on “How and Where to Find Materials for Music Performance and Scholarship.” She is currently interested in music and women’s empowerment in Africa.

jenna panelskyJenna Palensky

Jenna Palensky (BA in Music from Nebraska Wesleyan University, MM in Music History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is a fourth-year PhD student in ethnomusicology. Her areas of specialty include music of the Republic of Georgia and the Balkans with interests in cultural policy, tourism, ethnochoreology, diaspora and applied ethnomusicology. Jenna is active in the Boulder-Denver area as a frequent performer of Balkan music with the group Planina and as the music director and co-founder of a Romanian folk choir, Doina. Jenna has performed abroad twice in the Republic of Georgia with the group, Village Harmony where she plans to conduct her dissertation fieldwork. She has given research presentations for the College Music Society, the Colorado State University Kodaly Institute, the UNL Czech Komensky Club, Society for Ethnomusicology national and regional conferences and Music and the Moving Image.  

Jenna is currently working on a collaborative studio album of Macedonian and Serbian folk songs with members of Planina. In her spare time, Jenna teaches voice lessons, arranges choral music, enjoys playing her two Georgian instruments (the panduri and chonguri) and occasionally participates in international folk dancing and ballet.

chase peelerChase Peeler

Chase Peeler graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Music in Saxophone Performance and a minor in cultural anthropology. While at Baylor, he received an undergraduate research grant allowing him to travel to the rural highlands of Guatemala during the summer of 2007, where he studied and recorded music for several Kiche Maya dance-dramas. His subsequent report, The Deer-Monkeys Dance of Momostenango, Guatemala, was published in 2008 by the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies as part of a multi-year research project on Kiche expressive culture by Baylor anthropology professors Garrett Cook and Thomas Offit. The Baylor faculty selected him as the Outstanding Senior Man in the School of Music for the 2008-09 school year, and he also received the Bernard A. and Bessie Hess Smith Award, given annually to the senior music student with the highest level of academic achievement.

Chase is currently a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at CU. As an instructor, he has taught semester-length courses in music appreciation and world music, and he has given individual lectures in jazz history, the Irish-American musical diaspora, Renaissance sacred music and the outlaw country movement. Chases dissertation, tentatively titled On the Porch: Music, Community, and Change in the Big Bend, examines gentrification and the role of music in the process of alternative community building in a small town on the Texas-Mexico border. In November 2013 he was one of ten CU graduate students invited to present their research at the inaugural Deans Graduate Student Research Symposium, and in April 2015 he was awarded a dissertation completion fellowship from the Graduate School to support his writing. Chases piece, Nothing is Sweeter Than Catfish, (which forms the prelude to his dissertation), was awarded first prize for creative nonfiction in the 2015 Thompson Writing Awards, an annual contest held by CUs Center for the American West. It can be read on the centers website here:

As a performer, Chase is active as a freelance saxophonist and plays bodhrán regularly at local Irish sessions. He also enjoys playing guitar around the campfire and singing folk and country songs from his native Texas. When not consumed by music and school, Chase can usually be found at a brewery, on a trail, in a river or atop a mountain.

megan quilliamMegan Quilliam

Megan Quilliam is working toward a PhD in Ethnomusicology with an emphasis in South African music. Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, Megan completed her undergraduate work in Australia at the University of Sydneys Conservatorium of Music, receiving a Bachelor of Music (musicology) with honors. While there, Megan co-founded and co-edited the Undergraduate Journal of Musicology, the Sydney Conservatoriums first student-run journal. Currently in her third her, her research interests at Boulder center on the blending of art music customs with the traditional music of South Africa, as well as the musical activities of South African composers living abroad. She has presented research at conferences in Oregon and Colorado and recently received the 2015 Joann Kealiinohomuku Prize for Outstanding Student Paper at the regional SEM conference. She spent the summer of 2015 as a FLAS Fellow learning to speak isiZulu at the University of Florida. 

Megan enjoys teaching beginner’s lessons in piano, Celtic harp and voice. As a singer and instrumentalist she has performed with Regis University’s Collegium Musicum and the Sydney Conservatorium Choir, recordings of which were broadcast live in Australia. She is currently a member of the University of Colorado Boulder’s World Vocal Ensemble, a group that has been able to perform with two legends of South African music: Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Johnny Clegg Band. When she is not reading, performing or writing about music, Megan looks forward to travel of any kind, watching Springbok rugby and playing with her dog, Coda!

melanie shafferMelanie Shaffer
Historial Musicology

Melanie Shaffer is a PhD candidate in the exploratory stages of a dissertation. Her research interests center around the relationships of music and text and music and visual art, especially in the late medieval era and early twentieth century. She is a regular presenter at the regional meetings of the American Musicological Society and has also presented research at the national conference for the Society of American Music and the International Congress on Medieval Studies. Her first article, "Paul Robeson's Iconic Timbre: the Negotiation of Signification, was recently published in the Journal of the American Music Research Center. She currently serves as the Rocky Mountain student representative to AMS.

Shaffer is also a lead TA in the College of Music for CU's accomplished Graduate Teacher Program, in which she organizes a series of workshops on teaching and career development and consults with fellow graduate students on their classroom teaching. 

In non-scholastic life, Shaffer stays busy as a church musician and avid runner, hiker and rock-climber who is very distracted by Colorado.

steven terpenningSteven Terpenning

Steven Terpenning, a California native, is completing a dissertation regarding choral music in Accra, Ghana based on three research trips. While in Ghana he sang with government workplace choirs, recorded interviews and sought out archival material. His dissertation, currently titled From Church to State: The Development of Choral Music and National Consciousness in Greater Accra, engages with scholarly discourses about musical hybridity, semiotics and colonialism. Steven earned a Master of Music in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Davis in 2010, where he performed in samba and gamelan ensembles. He has presented at the annual conferences of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, the Society of Ethnomusicology and African Studies Association. His book reviews have been published in the Latin American Music Review and Worlds of Music journals. His first article regarding a 1929 Ghanaian choral composition is currently under review. Steven has five years' experience as a teaching assistant and instructor in Boulder and Davis. He continues to perform on the saxophone and travel in his spare time.

kelsey thibdeauKelsey Thibdeau

Kelsey Thibdeau is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder who is currently conducting field research in Jordan on a Fulbright fellowship that will contribute to her dissertation, a transnational study on how displaced Syrians participate in a larger, global network of activists who employ music and the arts to mobilize support and advocate for peace, human rights and international aid. 

Thibdeau’s primary areas of research interest are music and conflict, music in Diaspora communities and Applied Ethnomusicology for education. She has presented research and conducted workshops at academic and music education conferences including the Society for Ethnomusicology national conference, the Colorado Music Educators Conference and the Syria Now Global Engagement Academic Conference. In 2014, Thibdeau received the Joann Kealinohomoku Prize for Outstanding Student Paper at the SEM Southwest Region Conference, and has previously been awarded two Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) for Arabic language study and the Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. She has served as a teaching assistant for several CU music classes and as the primary instructor for World Musics. 

In 2015, Thibdeau studied the Arabic nay with ethnomusicologist Scott Marcus and performed with the UC-Santa Barbara Middle Eastern Ensemble. During that time, she also worked as the Programmer at the UCSB Multicultural Center, conceptualizing and acting as a liaison for all academic speakers and performance events.

Previously, Thibdeau received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in music education from CU with an ethnomusicology emphasis, completing a research project on multicultural music education curriculum in the U.S. state-sponsored international schools. In addition to her academic work, she has taught general and instrumental music for six years in public schools and overseas at the American School of Kuwait. In her spare time, Thibdeau enjoys hiking, camping and traveling with her husband John.

michael wardMichael Ward
Historical Musicology

An accomplished musician of diverse interests and background, Michael Ward has received many awards in the field. As a pianist, Ward has been described as daring and dynamic, yet sensitive and lyrical, with a keen awareness of stylistic propriety. He is a music theorist with an interest in twentieth century compositional techniques and is also an aspiring musicologist planning to specialize in late nineteenth and early twentieth century French music. He is also an accomplished composer and is invested in passing on his love and knowledge of music to others as a teacher.

Ward earned the Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree from Lee University in 2004, placing second in the Tennessee Piano Solo collegiate competition in 2003. While at Lee, he also studied composition with Dr. David Holsinger, winning a national scholarship competition for an original chamber music composition. Upon graduating with highest honors from Lee, Ward was given the Performance Award from the Department of Instrumental Music. He continued his piano studies at the University of Mississippi with Dr. Ian Hominick, earning the Master of Music in Piano Performance in 2006. While at the University of Mississippi, Ward was a graduate assistant in Music Theory, working with Dr. Laurdella Foulkes-Levy. Upon graduation, he was named Graduate Pianist of the Year and received the Graduate Music Theory Award and the Graduate Music History Award.

Ward served on the piano and music theory faculty of Lee University from 2006-2011. He continues to be active as a pianist and theorist and is currently pursuing the PhD in Musicology at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is a Teaching Assistant to Dr. Carlo Caballero. When he manages to wander from the library or classroom Ward, along with his wife Katherine, is an avid golfer and rock climber.

sienna woodSienna M. Wood

Sienna M. Wood is a PhD candidate in Musicology at the University of Colorado Boulder and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Colorado College. She earned a Certificate in College Teaching from the Graduate Teacher Program at CU-Boulder in 2014 and practices innovative pedagogy in music history and music technology. Wood is currently working on a dissertation titled "Chansons, madrigales & motetz à 3 parties by Noé Faignient: A Young Composer’s Debut in 16th-Century Antwerp" that will be completed in the 2015-2016 academic year. Her research interests include 16th-century polyphony in the Low Countries, the liedeken (15th- and 16th-century Dutch song), propaganda in music in the Early Modern period, edition making, digital editions, the Music Encoding Initiative and the digital humanities more broadly. Wood has performed, toured and recorded with a wide range of performing groups including early music ensembles (as a vocalist and wind player), traditional orchestra and chamber groups (as a clarinetist), and the Bowed Piano Ensemble. Outside of music, Wood is a freelance web developer and graphic artist. For more about Wood, please visit